Canadian Law – Not in the Spirit of Remembrance


Marilyn LINCOLN is a very proud Canadian.  But she is even more proud of the fact that her father Edmund MILLER was one of those Canadians who gave up the best years of his life, to “do his bit” in a global war – so that later generations could enjoy the peace of a free world.

IMAGE RIGHT:  A scanned image of a plaque, commemorating Sapper Edmund MILLER

Edmund MILLER was a Sapper with the Royal Canadian Engineers (Queen’s Own Rifles) who saw over five years of military service.  He took part in “The Longest Day” when he landed at Juno Beach in Normandy on the 6th of June, 1944.  And his impressive array of War Medals is testimony to the fact that he did not shirk his responsibilities when his country needed him most.  Like their fathers who served during the First World War and are now gone – it is a sad fact that the ranks of our World War Two veterans are dwindling.  Edmund MILLER, along with many of his mates – now rests with God.  And the world is a better place, because of men like him.

However, an email from his daughter Marilyn has prompted MEDALS GONE MISSING to lend support;  in opposal to a draconian Canadian Law which prohibits a civillian from wearing the medals of a deceased relative during periods of commemoration.  For Australians, our right to wear military service medals which were awarded to our ancestors is something which we have never had to think about.  Whilst an actual veteran is entitled to wear his or her own medals on their left side – when that person passes on – we take it upon ourselves to keep their memory alive by wearing their medals with pride;  on the right side of our chest.  This is the same in other nations of the Commonwealth, such as Great Britain and New Zealand.

So why not Canada?  If you have ever been to a Remembrance Day Service – undoubtably you have heard a recital of the poem “In Flanders Fields” which was written by a Canadian War Veteran (John McCrae) on the 3rd of May, 1915.  It is hard to forget the lines “Take up our quarrel with the Foe…..To you from failing hands we throw….The torch, be yours to hold it high…..If ye break faith with us who die”.  Metaphorically speaking; when an old soldier passes his war medals onto his next of kin – is he NOT throwing you his “torch” to hold up high?  And should the benefactor of these war medals, simply throw the hard earned medals into the back of a wardrobe – never again to see the light of day…..are we not “breaking faith” with those who die?

IMAGE LEFT:  Marilyn LINCOLN with her father Edmund MILLER in happier times.

If a family member cannot wear their relative’s service decorations….then these war medals will disappear from sight and lose their human connection.  The medals, along with the memories that they hold – will be condemned to decay in drawers and cupboards…. or behind glass cabinets; to become just a relic of the past.  When a war medal is worn by a child or grand-child of a veteran, they become a “living” memorial and a tangible symbol of that person.  They do not glorify war…. instead they glorify the human spirit that rose up in the face of adversity.  One cannot help but recall the expression “We gave our today…. for your tomorrow”.

Marilyn LINCOLN is “taking up our quarrel” – not with the foe….but with her own Government.  She has written to all Govenment Offices in a bid to have this law changed.  She has even corresponded with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth – in a bid to have a bill passed, permitting a relative to wear their ancestor’s war medals on days of commemoration.  In a statement written to MEDALS GONE MISSING, she has made the plea “I just want to be able to honour my father by displaying his medals on the right side of my chest during Remembrance Day Ceremonies.  I want to pin his name and a photo of him in uniform beside the medals so that everyone will know who I am remembering; and my father will never be forgotten”.

Having spoken to many veterans over the years, I have heard countless times – the desire of the veteran for their grandchildren to wear their medals, when they are gone.  Surely the wishes of these men should be upheld…it is the least we can do for them.

IMAGE RIGHT:  A scanned photograph from her local newspaper, showing Marilyn LINCOLN with her father’s coat and medals.

As an Australian citizen, I had no idea that the Canadian Government had adopted this stance with regards to the wearing of war medals by a relative.  I would go so far as to say that the majority of people from other British Commonwealth countries were equally as ignorant as I – with regards to this situation.   Marilyn is asking that we all rally together to lend our support – all across the globe….like our fathers did in 1939 – to right this wrong.  If you support Marilyn in her endeavour to commemorate the service of Canadian Servicemen and women, please click on the link below.

She already has the support of her local Veterans Legion, but they cannot do this alone….and with your support – we can do justice to these servicemen and women who no longer have a voice to be heard.  This modern generation has a debt to repay – and a necessity to honour the memory of those generations who have gone before us.  For if we do not remember the past, then how can we have a plan for the future.

In the words of John McCrae “If ye break faith with us who die…….We shall not sleep….though Poppies grow in Flanders Fields”

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About gary

Gary Traynor is the volunteer Administrator of the Militaria based website MEDALSGONEMISSING. The aim of this "NOT FOR PROFIT" website is to reunite families, with lost War Medals and other items of militaria. Anything from medals to items of uniform. What Gary refers to as their "lost heritage". He has been actively involved in the Militaria world and researching of Military History for well over 30 years. As a result, Gary also conducts valuations and offers advice on all items of militaria. He has acted as advisor to a number of television and Foxtel productions; including Sir Tony Robinson's "Tour of Duty" series which featured on the History Channel. Gary is a field historian and conducts tours to Gallipoli, The Western Front, Kokoda and many other major battle sites around the world. He was a member of the Australian Army Reserve (UNSWR & 4/3 RNSWR) and served for 23 years with the New South Wales Police Force. He is perhaps the only person who has been employed at the Australian War Memorial in all three capacities .... as a volunteer, part time and full time employee .... starting as a qualified tour guide, working in the public galleries as an Information Assistant and finally Assistant Curator in Military Heraldry & Technology. Medalsgonemissing is a website that will assist you in locating your family's lost war medals and other awards. If you have an ancestor who served in any of the British Commonwealth Armed Services at any time - and whose medals are lost/stolen or simply missing....then so long as the medals are out there - this site will help you to locate them. However the site also contains articles of interest in relation to Military History, War Memorials & Uniforms / kit. Please explore our website as there is sure to be something of interest to you.
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23 Responses to Canadian Law – Not in the Spirit of Remembrance

  1. Linda Wilkins Parker says:

    Marilyn is so right in trying to make sure that the symbols of sacrifice made by so many for our generation and for future generations are preserved and honoured in every way possible, not shoved away in a trunk in the attic and ending up on the market, or, worse still, in the dump. One of the best ways to ensure this doesn’t happen is for the next of kin of veterans passed to be able to wear those medals proudly each Remembrance Day.

  2. I whole heartedly agree with Marilyn. I personally did wear my brothers Medals in Korea last November 11th 2008 for turn toward Busan. My brother was Private Kenneth Wellington Norton KIA Nov. 5th 1951 on hill 159 and never had the chance to wear his Medals that he gave his life for. I strongly urge the right to honor my brother by being allowed the privilege to let our nation know he fought for freedom and justice for all.Just because our loved ones are gone doesn’t mean they should be forgotten and at least be remembered on November 11. We will remember them. I say wear the medals and wear them with pride. Wake up Canada and remember who gave their all for our freedom. Amen
    Millie Timbers

  3. Joanne Ware says:

    I am the niece of Private Kenneth Wellington Norton killed in action Nov. 5 1951 in the Korean War. I believe that it is only fitting that the family member should be allowed to wear with pride the medals on Remembrance Day. After all, the Canadian Forces and their families who sacrificed everything for our freedom did not get the opportunity to proudly wear the medals they so rightly deserved. Canada, please remember it is because of our brave men and women that we have the freedom we have today.

  4. Ephriam Frey says:

    I agree with Marilyn Lincoln’s contention that the medals should not be simply stored away, but rather should be proudly worn on remembrance day as a reminder of those brave souls that fought for the freedoms we enjoy today.

  5. I agree that the families should be given the Right and Honor of wearing the medals earned by their loved ones on Remembrance Day. Many of these Veterans did NOT come back from these wars unharmed or unscathed … if they came back at all.
    We as Canadians should NEVER FORGET the sacrifices made by these Veterans for “Our” freedom. The freedom we ALL now possess and enjoy as Canadians because of them.
    What better way to Honor these men and women than to keep what they stood up for fresh in all Canadian minds and hearts by allowing the families to proudly wear these medals that were given to our Veterans for their sacrifices made. As CANADIANS… we should stand up Proud of those who fought for us and NEVER forget them. This once a year day, REMEMBRANCE DAY, is dedicated to those who gave everything for us ! Can we not GIVE something back???? Do we not OWE them at least THAT much for their sacrifices??? DO NOT LET THESE VETERANS AND ALL THEY FOUGHT FOR DIE IN VAIN!!!! Let them live on from one generation to the next BY REMEMBERING them.

  6. Gerry Smith says:

    I agree with Marilyn and all the other families who wish to honour their family members and loved ones for the bravery and immense sacrifices that were made in fighting for the freedom we have today. I am flabbergasted that the Canadian Government has turned down a Private Members bill 5 times to change the law to allow family members of Veterans to wear the medals on the right side of the chest during Rememberance Day, especially when other Commonwealth countries like Australia, NZ and Great Britain allow this. I am forwarding Marilyn’s letter to everyone in my family to write to their local MP on behalf of Marilyn and hope everyone else who reads this will do the same. God Bless Edmund Miller and all who served with him. We cannot let these fine men and women down!

  7. Barry Wilson says:

    The law in Canada should be amended sooner then later to allow the families of deceased veterans to honor their soldiers by allowing them to display the war medals on the right side of the chest.We are losing World War 2 and Korean Veterans daily. Before we lose them all, lets show them how much they are treasured and will be remembered.
    What an honor for any veteran to know that after he/she is gone the family will carry the torch by displaying the medals year after year, generation after generation so we never forget those faces and names who gave us our freedom we enjoy today.
    Good Luck with that medal campaign Marilyn and don’t give up the mission until mission is accomplished.

    Barry Wilson

  8. Carol Welham says:

    I am fully in support of Marilyn and her efforts, add my name to the list of people who want to wear the medals in remembrance of people who have passed.

  9. Peter Hundy says:

    Dear Marilyn, I write to tell your opponents that your cause is heard with strength in Australia from a family, one of many, who have serving sons, as I do currently in the Australian Tank Regiment, and family before us who served in conflicts around the world, having fought and including the many who have fallen for the peace in our countries we have today.
    My wife’s cousin fought in the Australian Light Horse in Gallipoli, two of my uncles fought on the Kokoda Trail against the Japanese, another of my uncles fought in France against the Germans.
    All our support to you, we will circulate your story throughout Australia. Only today, we are celebrating the life and the descendant family members of our Sgt Tongs 3rd Battalion, Kokoda.
    My cousins paid the ultimate loss when their dad, my Uncle Albert Hundy, who fought against the Japanese along the Kokoda Trail, surviving the war, sadly, he succumbed to his injuries post war. My cousin’s have a constitutional right to celebrate their father and their sacrifice for the peace of THIS country as it is today.
    Respectfully yours,
    Peter Hundy

  10. Travis Lincoln says:

    I agree with Marilyn

  11. gary says:

    As I was reading the article about Marilyn Lincoln wanting to wear her fathers medals at the Remembrance Day ceremony , I’m appalled that the Canadian law forbids it .

    Since the World War veterans are getting fewer and fewer over the years , it is only right that the direct descendants should be allowed to proudly display their medals .These men and women fought hard for us to live in a free country and they should be forever remembered for that . And their medals should definately be part of every Remembrance Day ceremony and be allowed to be worn proudly by their sons and daughters. COMMENT SUBMITTED BY Ellen TABBERT ( ON 9TH DECEMBER, 2009

  12. gary says:

    It is truly astounding that Marilyn Lincoln should be fighting for the right to wear her father’s medals in this day and age. When all other Commonwealth countries have allowed the families of their deceased soliders to honour the memory of those gallant men and women why is it that Canadians can not?
    Are our Members of Parliament that callous or ignorant or dismissive of our soliders’ valour? Shame on them and thank goodness for people like Marilyn who rise to the challenge despite 7 failed private members bills on this issue.
    They fought for us now we need to fight to remember them!

    Patricia Sinclair
    From Scarborough, ONTARIO

  13. Jose van Berkel says:

    I strongly agree with Marilyn Lincoln. I would love to wear my father’s medals (Kenneth Francis Barwise, MMCD)proudly on Remembrance Day if the law would allow it.

  14. Cheryl Cronin says:

    I think it is very sad that our Government will not allow the families of our deceased veterans to wear their metals. Canada always seems to drag their heels on issues that should be no brainer decisions.

  15. S Dubois says:

    Yes i agree with you.

  16. Rolland Dubois says:

    Does the Canadian Government which is so proud of the John McCrae medals know where the medals come from/ A collector had those medals in two picture frames in a suitcase he probably did not even remember he had them. In 1996 after he passed away his children were hasty in cleaning up his clutered house. I dug out of the pile of stuff in the winnipeg dump the suitcase containing the frames full of wordwar 1 and 2 medals 53 in all also the death plaque of John McCrae his medals were highlited ‘auther of in flanders fields’ also ‘father of John McCrae’ . They would have been lost forever.Call me what you want ‘ I put them in a local military aution through the advice of my buddy the autioneer.Now if canada controled in some way the medals awarded those women and men who gave so much for freedom it would show the proper respect to the heros the medals and their beloved country canada.Instead of dump pilferers ‘crooked autions and fabricated lies does not honor the honerable. Collectors and whoever else that mistakenly throw out medals at dumps I will hopefully be able to salvage them before they are lost forever like almost happened to John McCraes medals ; woudn’t that have been a shame CANADA . When i find some I will sell them unless hopefully the Goverment of Canada wakes up.

  17. Does the Canadian Government which is so proud of the John McCrae medals know where the medals come from/ A collector had those medals in two picture frames in a suitcase he probably did not even remember he had them. In 1996 after he passed away his children were hasty in cleaning up his cluttered house. I dug out of the pile of stuff in the Winnipeg dump the suitcase containing the frames full of world war 1 and 2 medals 53 in all also the death plaque of John McCrae his medals were highlighted ‘author of in Flanders fields’ also ‘father of John McCrae’ . They would have been lost forever.Call me what you want ‘ I put them in a local military author through the advice of my buddy the auctioneer.Now if Canada controlled in some way the medals awarded those women and men who gave so much for freedom it would show the proper respect to the hero’s the medals and their beloved country Canada.Instead of dump pilferers ‘crooked auctions and fabricated lies does not honor the honorable. Collectors and whoever else that mistakenly throw out medals at dumps I will hopefully be able to salvage them before they are lost forever like almost happened to John McCraes medals ; wouldn’t that have been a shame CANADA . When i find some I will sell them unless hopefully the Government of Canada wakes up…P.S I was defrauded of the medals at the auction. I HOPE Marilyn gets it done’

  18. Rolland Dubois says:

    Iknow most of the story on the origin of John McCrae war medals They were found in a winnipeg landfill in 1996… Lynn Miller email me if you want and I,LL try to answer your questions.

  19. Rolland Dubois says:

    found John McCrae,s medals at landfill.

  20. Janet Fries says:

    My Mom was Thelma E. Fries a proud War Vet. I lost my mom she passed away Sept. 24 this year. She was 92. I am now involved with my Mom and Marilyns fight. I have my Moms medals and now I am in the same position as Marilyn with her late fathers Medals. My Mom wished to see this Canadian Law changed.

  21. gary says:

    Hello there Janet, I believe that Marilyn is still fighting in her cause to rectify this silly regulation. It is something that many of us in Australia simply take for granted …… the right to wear the medals of our ancestors. Keep supporting Marilyn and I have no doubt that one day, things will be turned around. Good luck and thank you for posting your comment. Gary Traynor. Administrator.

  22. Two years ago I was all but accosted at remebrance day by someone who told me wearing my late father’s medals was a criminal act. He went on and on and people around us were getting uncomfortable. Finally in my best Clint Eastwood voice I said , “And are going to try to remove them ?” I am 6’3″ and 225 so he kind of slithered away . I got several thumbs up. But I have since found that there is a dumb lay in the Criminal code that backs this. I told soem Australian friend with whom I served in Cyprus. Not only are they allowed to honour deceased relatives theya re encouraged to do so. I have since lobbied my MP who has forwarded my concerns to the Department of veterans’ affairs. I tend to stick to things, some may recall the incident in 2006 where some drunk teens were phtographed urinating on the Cenotaph, those were my photos and I worked for a eyar to the point where the “suits” backed down adn we now have a summer honour guard, guides and displays. I recently received a note from Marilyn Lincoln adn I join her struggle to allow us to show respect adn not cow tow to a law designed bys ome “suit”
    Michael Pilon DDS ( Major retired)

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